Summary: One of the problems in too many churches is the issue of "Whose church is this?" The answer to that question is summed up in this simple phrase: "The Lord Adds to His Church." What can that mean to us and how can it change how the church functions?
OPEN: How many people were baptized into Christ at Pentecost? (about 3000 souls)
That story in Acts has inspired many churches, evangelists, missionaries and 1000s of others to attempt to reach as many as they can to bring more and more people to Christ.
One such church was one from New Jersey that held a series of evangelistic meetings back in the 1800s. They put up posters, handed out handbills, invited everyone they could to come to the meetings where a well-known evangelist gave powerful messages. At the end of the service a number of people came down front at the invitation and one of the first persons to walk down the aisle was a prostitute who was well-known in the community. It was obvious she was truly repentant, and she was weeping openly. And the audience was pleased to see the change that was taking place in her… but then it became apparent that she wanted to join their church and the sanctuary became deathly quiet as everyone realized what this meant. This was a prostitute… a woman of low repute. They didn’t mind her coming to Christ. They just didn’t want her coming to their church.
Our text for this morning ends with these intriguing words: “And THE LORD ADDED to their number day by day those who were being saved.” Acts 2:47
Did you notice that I emphasized that phrase: “the Lord added to their number”
As I read that phrase it occurred to me that this idea that GOD ADDED to the church signaled that something mystical was going on here. This early church was not going to be a mere mortal organization. It wasn’t going to be like the Elks or the Eagles, or the Masons, or any number of other civic groups out there. When the Bible tells us God added folks to His church… it’s telling us that God intended to RUN His church.
Now granted, as a local congregation, we need to make decisions about what directions this church should go, and how money should be spent. But when you get right down to it… this is not OUR church.
Whose Church is it? (GOD’S)
That’s the reason the Elders, the Staff, the Deacons, the Sunday School Teachers - that’s why each and every one of us need to ask ourselves - whenever we do anything here – “What would God have us do?”
ILLUS: I saw this take place here about 8 or 9 years ago. It was about that time that we had just enough money in the bank to hire a builder to construct this worship area we’re meeting in now. This had been a dream of our congregation for years before I was even hired here, but about that same time, the nation experienced a recession and many people were struggling financially. The Elders talked long and hard about the fact that it wouldn’t seem appropriate to spend the money we had in the bank on a new sanctuary when that same money could be used to help those in need in our congregation. A couple Sundays later we our church annual meeting and one of the leaders stood up and announced the decision of the Elders that we weren’t going to build right then. The money was going to be used for the needs of the congregation. How did the congregation react? They applauded. It was then that I really knew what kind of church I’d been honored to serve. This church saw the money in the bank as GOD’S MONEY, and they saw this congregation as HIS CHURCH. And it told me that you folks realized that even if this building were destroyed… God’s church would still exist.
When a church belongs to God it makes decisions like that. It reveals that it understands that it is intended to be a mystical organization… not a mortal one. This was a God OWNED body of believers.
ILLUS: At the beginning of the sermon I told you the true story of the conversion of a prostitute. If you’ll recall, when she came down front… the church was initially pleased by her decision. But then they realized she intended to join THEIR congregation… and things got suddenly quiet! I'm not sure any churches do this nowadays, but back then (in that church) they VOTED on whether or not outsiders could become members. And nobody wanted to vote this woman into their church.
In that same congregation was a man named Samuel Colgate. Colgate was the founder of the Colgate business empire and he was a devout believer in Christ. He watched this little drama unfold before him and it angered him… so he stood up and said the following words:
“I guess we blundered when we prayed that the Lord would save sinners. We forgot to specify what kind of sinners. We'd better ask Him to forgive us for this oversight. The Holy Spirit has touched this woman and made her truly repentant, but the Lord apparently doesn't understand that she's not the type we want Him to rescue. We'd better spell it out for Him just which sinners we had in mind.”